Friday, September 23, 2022
10:30 AM EDT
West Cannon Baptist Church
5760 Cannonsburg Road NE
Belmont, MI 49306
Friends may visit with his family at church beginning at 9:30 AM.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
West Cannon Baptist Church
5760 Cannonsburg Road NE
Belmont, MI 49306
Covenant Living of the Great Lakes
2510 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
note: "Benevolent care fund" in memo line.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of William Riter, it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. His primary focus was fostering deep and personal relationships with those around him, and he was well known for his unshakeable faith and his heart of service. Forever loved, Bill will be dearly missed by those who knew him best.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young men and women had answered the call to serve while those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods such as paper, canned goods, rubber, and coffee. It was as the promise of summer began to appear on the horizon in May of 1942, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that Russell William and Kathryn (Boller) Riter were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby. The big day finally arrived on May 14th when the baby boy they named William Russell drew his first breath.
Growing up, Bill was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised alongside his three younger siblings, Dave, Bruce, and Nancy. Most of Bill’s childhood was spent in the family home in Deerfield, Illinois, a Northern suburb of Chicago. His father supported the family by working as a pilot and a plane mechanic. As such, Bill grew up around planes and knew how to fly a plane before he even had his driver’s license. His mother was influential in forming the firm foundation of the faith that would serve Bill well for his entire life. He was a Boy Scout from a young age, then later worked as a lifeguard. Bill discovered a passion for trains, models, and collections, so getting a job in a hobby shop was a perfect match for him.
While pursuing his education, Bill attended local schools, including Highland Park High School, where he participated in the marching band. Following his graduation from high school, he chose to study business at Cedarville College in Ohio. His family helped him pack his belongings into a plane, flew him to the airstrip closest to the school, and dropped him off. From there, getting to college was Bill’s responsibility. After receiving his degree, he began teaching at Cedarville while pursuing his masters degree at the University of Illinois.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Bill as he met the woman who would quickly become the love of his life. Her name was Ardith Martin, and the two first met at the school, where she worked as a music teacher. Over the next few months, their relationship flourished and deepened into something truly wonderful. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Bill and Ardith were married that same year on December 16, 1967. Ardith’s father was a minister and officiated the wedding. For the next several years, Bill and Ardith enjoyed living in their campus community before their family began to expand.
All who knew Bill can surely agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his family above all else. Together, he and Ardith were overjoyed to welcome their beloved daughters, Lynn and Amber, into their hearts and home. Bill took his role as a father very seriously. He was a calm and even-tempered parent, and he always showed interest in whatever his daughters were invested in and was supportive of their activities. Over the years, the Riter family took many road trips, often to see family members across the United States. Later in life, Bill was thrilled to become a grandfather and even a great-grandfather. He doted on his grandchildren and never missed one of their activities. Bill always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Bill was never afraid to work hard in order to support himself and his loved ones. His interest in technology translated to a job installing large computer systems, which brought the Riter family to Cincinnati for four years. One of these jobs took Bill to Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, now Cornerstone University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He felt the call to return to teaching there, where he would remain for over thirty years. Bill loved teaching and investing in his students. He also served as a student advisor and went on to lead the business department at the school.
The Riter family settled down in Grand Rapids, living first on Oaklawn NE before moving to their longtime home on Costa NE. Bill had a machine shop on the side of the house on Costa. The shop allowed him to have space to develop his technical skills. The family joined Northland Baptist Church, which would become their church home for many years. Later, Bill and Ardith attended West Cannon Baptist Church. He was very active with Caleb’s Kin, a Bible study for adults. Bill’s quiet faith and trust in God guided his life.
Bill pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He was known for his lifelong interest in trains. Bill collected trains and built a track around the yard with scale model trains that he could ride on, even making his own steam boiler engine. He was involved with the White Creek Railroad and the Grand Rapids Model Railroad Historical Society. Bill and Ardith raised vegetable and flower gardens together. He was tirelessly devoted to his wife, even as Alzheimer’s began to complicate their lives. The two moved to Covenant Living of the Great Lakes, where Bill continued to care for Ardith. Both were positive and optimistic, no matter what they were going through.
As family and friends can surely attest, William Riter truly understood the secret for a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength for others, even in the most difficult of times, and he was forever willing to help those around him. Though he will be deeply missed, Bill leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
William Russell Riter, age 80, entered into eternal glory with his Lord and Savior on September 18, 2022. Bill is survived by his beloved wife, Ardith; their children Lynn & Dave Van Loo, and Amber & Jim Koster; grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) Kirstie & Eric Miedema (Braylon, Madison, Camden), Zachary and Tyler Van Loo, Rebecca & Matt Horling (Monroe), Emma and Ellie Koster; brothers Dave Riter and Bruce (Gudi) Riter; sister Nancy (Ray) Hopkins and his aunt, Edith Carol Boller; as well as several nieces and nephews.
His funeral service will be held on Friday, September 23, 2022 at 10:30 AM at West Cannon Baptist Church, 5760 Cannonsburg Road NE. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Thursday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW and on Friday at church beginning at 9:30 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either West Cannon Baptist Church or Covenant Living of the Great Lakes Benevolent Fund are appreciated. To read more about Bill, to share a favorite memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com